Importance of Post Harvest Processing of Fruits and Vegetables
Post-harvest technology / post-harvest management – may be defined as the branch of agriculture that deals with all the operations right from harvesting or even the pre-harvest stages till the commodity reach the consumer, either in fresh (grains, apple, mango, tomato fruits) or processed form (flour, juice, nectar, ketchup) and utilization of the wastes (pomace, peel, seed, skin, etc.) in a profitable manner (manufacture of fermented beverages, colour extraction, pectin extraction, etc.)
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Importance of post-harvest technology:
- Quite possibly the main contemplations of the planet today is to give nutritious food to around 7.8 billion populace in the world.
- Fruits and vegetables, being a rich source of vital nutrients constitute an important component of human nutrition.
- The concerted efforts made in the horticulture sector have been amply rewarded with a tremendous increase in the production of various fruits and vegetables, throughout the world. Inconsistent with the global trend, India has emerged as the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables, and 20-40% of this hard-earned valuable produce goes waste due to inadequate post-harvest infrastructure and poor utilization (1.8%) by the processing industry.
- Moreover, there is little point in growing more if much of it is to be lost. Besides quantitative losses, the problem of quality and safety of produce is also significant to the consumers. The whole scenario thus reflects a very gloomy picture. Unless post-harvest technology gets its due recognition and proper growth, the horticulture industry cannot thrive.
- World production of fruits and vegetables at present is 1450 million metric tonnes (fruit production- 656.48 million metric tonnes and vegetable production- 794.23 million metric tonnes).
- Worldwide post-harvest fruit and vegetable losses are as high as 30 to 40% and even much higher in some developing countries.
- Reducing post-harvest losses is very important; ensuring that sufficient food, both in quantity and in quality is available to every inhabitant on our planet.
- The prospects are also that the world population will grow from 5.7 billion inhabitants in 1995 to 8.4 billion in 2025.
- World production of vegetables amounted to 794 million ton, while that of fruits reached 656 million tonnes.
- Reduction of post-harvest losses reduces the cost of production, trade, and distribution lowers the price for the consumer and increases the farmer’s income.
- Whereas in India production of fruits and vegetables are 259.3 million metric tons.
- It includes fruit production of 90.2 million metric tonnes which is about 15 % of world production and second-largest producer after China in the world and vegetable production of 169.1 million metric tonnes which is about 11% of world production and second-largest producer after China in the world.
- But India loses about 30-40% of the product due to improper Post Harvest Management. India wastes fruits and vegetables every year equivalent to the annual consumption of the United Kingdom.
The following points shall highlight the importance of Post-harvest technology
1. Reduction in post-harvest losses:
Post-harvest technology ensures the reduction of losses in what has already been produced. So; reduction of post-harvest losses is an alternative way of increasing the production of agricultural and horticultural crops.
2. Reduction of cost of production:
Post-harvest technology reduces the cost of production, packaging, storage, transportation, marketing, and distribution, lowers the price for the consumer and increases the farmer’s income.
3. Reducing malnutrition:
Proper post-harvest technology ensures the availability of sufficient food to all thus reducing malnutrition and ensuring healthy growth of the nation. It also extends the season of availability of a particular commodity.
4. Economic loss reduction:
Reduces economic losses at the grower level, during the marketing, and at the consumer’s end.
Had there been no knowledge of post-harvest technology, apples would not have ever reached Kerala and Banana in H.P. or Kashmir today. Today we can get perishable commodities like bananas, tomato, etc. throughout the year and in almost every place in the country. Apples can be made available throughout the year although the cropping season is just for 2-3 months. Thanks to the advancement made in the field of post-harvest technology. The increasing exports of fruits and vegetables have become possible only by the interventions made in post-harvest technology.
6. Employment generation:
The food processing industry ranks first in terms of employment generation with approximately 15 lakhs persons employed. Employment potential in the post-harvest and value addition sector is considered to be very high. Every one crore rupee invested in fruit and vegetable processing in the organized sector generates 140 persons per year of employment as compared to just 1050 person-days of employment per year in small-scale investment (SSI) units. The SSI unit in the food industry employs 4, 80,000 persons, contributing 13% of all SSI units employed.
7. Export earnings:
Export of fresh and processed horticultural commodities also attracts valuable foreign exchange.
8. Defense and astronaut’s requirements:
Defense forces posted in remote border areas as well as astronauts who travel into space have special requirements of ready-to-eat and high-energy low-volume food. The requirements are fulfilled by processing industries.
9. Infant and sports preparations:
Today special infant and sports drinks and other processed preparations are available for use, especially by these people. These preparations are done especially to meet the specific nutritional requirements of their body.